Veal or Turkey & Spinach Manicotti

One of my mom’s favorite meals is veal cannelloni, so this is for her. Traditionally, cannelloni is made by rolling sheets of pasta around a filling, but I’m going to make this easier by stuffing manicotti, which are dried pasta tubes.


  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 pounds ground veal or ground turkey breast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups passata or tomato puree
  • 1 (9- or 10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 (8-ounce) box manicotti pasta tubes
  • 1 (5-ounce) package soft cheese with herbs (such as Boursin)
  • 1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


In a Dutch oven, heat the EVOO (2 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Pat the meat dry, then cook, breaking it into crumbles as it browns. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the onion and garlic and cook 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add 2 cups of the passata. Add the spinach, pulling it into shreds with your fingers. Stir, reduce the heat to a low simmer, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool while you make the béchamel and cook the pasta.

If making this to serve on Cook Day, preheat the oven to 375°F. If making for later in the week, you’ll preheat the oven on the night of.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, season with salt and pepper and a little nutmeg. Cook the sauce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the herb cheese.

Salt the boiling water and cook the manicotti only 5 minutes. Drain well.

Pour the remaining 2 cups passata into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.

Standing the manicotti on end in the baking dish as you work, fill each tube with the meat mixture. Lay down the manicotti in a single layer in the dish. Top with the béchamel and Parm.

Make-ahead: Cover with parchment paper and then foil, cool, and refrigerate.

Night of: Return the manicotti to room temp while you preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bake the manicotti, covered, to heat through, 40 minutes to 1 hour (longer if it is still cold from the refrigerator). Uncover and bake until browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

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